Two strengths that have helped define Virginia Tech’s success in recent years -- a stingy defense and strong running game -- were instead part of the problem last week in the Hokies’ loss to Pitt.
It was an especially uncharacteristic performance for Bud Foster’s defense, which allowed the Panthers 537 total yards, including 254 rushing yards. The fact that the Hokies were beaten up front by Pitt’s offensive line was one of the biggest surprises of the weekend. Virginia Tech coach Frank Beamer on Monday said that defensively, there was miscommunication, missed tackles and problems with fits into gaps.
“They’re all things that can be corrected,” Beamer said, “and we’re going to learn from this video and be better.”
Offensively, it wasn’t much better, but with eight new starters it wasn’t the first time this season the offense stumbled. The Hokies had 47 first-half rushing yards against Georgia Tech in the season opener, and quarterback Logan Thomas was off on some of his throws. Against Pitt, Thomas had three interceptions and the offense finished with four turnovers. Beamer said Thomas’ weren’t all his own, that some of the receivers weren’t running the proper routes at times, and Pittsburgh got good pressure on Thomas. The running game was held to fewer than 100 yards for the second time in three games, and Michael Holmes fumbled the ball in the second quarter and Pitt recovered it on the 10-yard line to set up an easy score.
“Freshmen are playing like freshmen at times,” Beamer said. “They’ve got to continue to grow. There’s a lot going on. Pitt was very tough on defense. We’ve got a couple of guys there who are seeing things for the first time. They’re going to be OK, though.”
Problem is they’re going to need to be better than OK to get back to Charlotte.